‘The Remedy’ is available on Quill Theater for free, but if you haven’t tried Quill or other VR content creation apps out yet it may be difficult to understand just how much work went into creating this short. For that reason, Oculus also released a behind-the-scenes video that shows some of the laborious processes involved in bringing the short film to life.
The real takeaway here is that this was an example of pre-established 2D animation talent having fun with entirely new possibilities afforded by tools designed exclusively for immersive media creation. With developers building more comprehensive creative toolsets specifically for VR, there are many other artists who could easily jump over-and maybe they will once better distribution channels emerge. That’s what makes Quill special; it was developed by Oculus Story Studio, the same studio that brought us Dear Angelica and Henry.
Not only did they make a great app, but they created an amazing set of tools and made them available for free to the community. This isn’t just a fantastic VR animation tool; it’s also arguably one of the best examples of what is possible in social VR.
It makes me excited about what we might see from Quill Theater in the future because there are more possibilities than just 360 video experiences like ‘The Remedy’. Medium has 3D sculpting capabilities, for example, while the Oculus Video player allows any 2D material you have on your computer to be displayed inside a virtual environment. Right now Quill Theatre doesn’t have much in way of tutorials so if you don’t know how to animate or want to try something different with VR, you’re out of luck.
‘The Remedy’ itself is a fun experience that will probably only take around 10 minutes to complete. To get the full enjoyment out of it I recommend finding some headphones and wearing some comfortable clothing while taking in the beautiful animation. Like most VR experiences there’s no real solid conclusion or beginning; instead, you are dropped into an unfamiliar world with its own set of rules and expected to figure everything else out yourself by exploring the space along with an unnamed character (voiced by one-half of The Firewatch guys).
You’ll mostly be walking on some narrow scaffolding around the walls of a large circular room that surrounds one giant sphere. That’s basically the whole experience, but it’s still fun to see what you can discover while moving around in VR with motion controllers.
It’s also worth mentioning that this is the first time I’ve noticed really fantastic audio direction in any VR film or game which makes everything feel more immersive overall. The voices aren’t constant streams of indistinguishable noise; instead, they are placed at specific points based on where you’re looking and how close they are to your physical position which adds an entire extra layer to the experience.
One of my main problems with Quill Theater was that it took forever for me to get up onto that scaffolding. I’m not sure why the character never makes any effort to climb up himself, but I had a lot of difficulties getting on top of it without teleporting or using some other platforming mechanic.
That’s not a huge problem because it only took me a few tries to get there, but if you’re going to do something like this in VR then I want to be able to actually walk up the scaffold and not teleported onto it with a button press. It might have been easier for me if my center of mass was above 1.9m instead of 1.5m, but that seems like an arbitrary number without much explanation behind it so it could just be another weird limitation or bug within Quill Theater itself.
I’m not sure if the character’s scaffold climbing animation is really supposed to be that slow because it goes on for nearly 20 seconds. If you’re using Quill Theater for its intended purpose, then I could understand why this would be an issue; but as I said, Oculus should probably consider expanding Quill Theater into something more than just 360 video experiences in the future.